Darul Amaanah Academy and five families are settling their civil rights lawsuit with the City of Wilmington. The suit alleged Muslim children were harassed and asked to leave a city pool last summer because of religious-related clothing.
Under the settlement, the City agrees to revise dress code policies for city-operated aquatic facilities by accommodating clothing worn for religious reasons or financial hardship, provide additional training to employees and extend the length of the 2019 pool season through Labor Day. The City will also pay the plaintiffs a total of $50,000.
“I was born and raised in Wilmington, which is why it broke my heart to see our children face this kind of discrimination and humiliation from the city,” said Tahsiyn Ismaa’eel, founding director of the Darul Amaanah Academy summer camp, in a statement. “Every child should be able to have fun in a public pool without having to worry about facing prejudice.”
In a statement, the plaintiffs’ co-counsel Muslim Advocates said pool staff harassed children attending Darul Amaanah Academy camp this past summer and “repeatedly denied them access to the pool simply because of their religious beliefs.”
Muslim Advocates say the lawsuit was filed in August after the City “failed to take meaningful action” following the incident. Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki released a public apology in July saying the City “ used poor judgement” in assessing and then reacting to the matter. The city initially framed it as a safety issue.
In a statement about the settlement, Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki and City Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Kelley said Wilmington is “committed to ensuring the fair and equal treatment of all residents.” The statement said the settlement “helps to ensure that all residents of Wilmington are able to enjoy Wilmington’s aquatic facilities.”